E3 2017: Vampyr Impressions

When I first saw Vampyr at E3 2016, the presentation was somewhat scattered as the developers wanted to show as many features as possible regardless of how early the game was in development. This year though I was able to watch a forty minute demo that was a much deeper dive into how mission structures will play out in the final product.

But before we get to that, let’s do a brief summary of the storyline. In Vampyr, you play as a recently turned vampire named Dr. Jonathan Reid in 1918 London during the Spanish Flu epidemic. Torn between his decaying humanity and thirst for blood, Jonathan must fight to find a balance between his good intentions and his need to kill to survive.

During the hands-off presentation, combat took a backseat since that has been shown quite a bit before and is honestly the least interesting aspect of the game. There is nothing bad to say about the combat because it looks fine, there appears to be a good variety in the move set with melee attacks and various vampire powers to play with. But what separates this game from other third person action games is the fascinating world and how your actions will impact it.

The demo started with an interaction between Jonathan and a doctor who has given Jonathan a safe haven from vampire hunters. This is emphasized when a vampire hunter friend of the doctor interrupts them and threatens Jonathan until the doctor intervenes and remind them they are on sacred ground. This causes the hunter to leave, but not before threatening to get Jonathan later. After that, the doctor asks Jonathan to help him locate a missing person and the main mission begins.

I will say that the opening cutscene did come across kind of stiff. The character animations were a little rough looking and the models looked a bit plastic. The demo was stated to be an alpha build so it’s still early and hopefully can be improved.

On the way to the main mission, we came across a man named Seymour who was distraught that he lost his mother’s necklace and we were presented with the choice of helping him find the necklace. We chose to help find the necklace and went into a “detective” mode where Jonathan could track people through blood trails. Jonathan quickly found a blood trail that lead to an alley filled with corpses and the necklace. Clearly something is up and Jonathan confronts Seymour who freely admits he killed those people and doesn’t care one bit about it. We also learn through the dialogue that Seymour takes care of his elderly mother which transitioned into the developer talking about how every single NPC is connected to another and one’s fate will have a domino effect on the community as a whole.

This leaves Jonathan with the choice of killing Seymour and gaining some experience points or leaving him to possibly kill again. Killing him is an obvious reaction, but it would lead to his mother having to fend for herself so the developer decides to investigate further.

In Vampyr, every NPC has a name, a story and a connection to another person. Killing one person will have a direct effect on another person which can be devastating to the game’s world. To reward players for investigating before a kill, the number of experience points that can be earned from a kill will increase based on the amount of information gathered on them.

So the side mission continued with the presenter choosing to interview Seymour’s mother and continuing to build a profile for Seymour and his mother. While interviewing the mother we find out that she is aware of his son’s murdering hobby and she refuses to turn him in. This now gives you potentially two “bad” people to kill. Sadly, we were pressed for time so the presenter just chose to kill Seymour’s mother and we are told this will cause Seymour to react poorly in the future.

The side mission was important because it showed us the depth of the quests and how important a single NPC can be. Killing one person has a direct impact on another and there will be consequences from even a single death. For example, the district in which Seymour lived will now be down one person and other people might flee the village out of fear. This could also lead to shops raising prices to compensate for less people or the vampire hunters moving into the area due to a vampire related murder.

With the presentation ending soon, we went back to the main mission and we find out that an important religious figure has been turned into a vampire. This person is known for feeding the poor and will continue to do so, but he will also be a murderous vampire. It’s now up to the player to decide whether they kill this person or let him live because of how important they are to the village. Sadly, the demo ends before a decision could be made.

Vampyr appears to be be progressing nicely, I am optimistic on how the final game will turn out based on the demo I was shown. The visuals still need some work, but the core concept of every character being important is fascinating and something that can make this game feel unique.

Vampyr is scheduled to release on PS4, PC and Xbox One this November.

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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